Photo: Index Open

As the economy revives and consumers ratchet up their traveler spending, hoteliers will gradually scale back the unprecedented two-year-long run of continuous hotel promotions. At least that's the theory. With such a scenario in mind, I've been monitoring the end dates of recent offers from the major hotel chains, looking for signs that hotel marketers are finally ready to cut back on bonus points, free nights, and other sales incentives.

Hilton's current promotion is only in place through June 30. But Starwood's latest offer applies to stays through July 31, and Best Western's is in place through August 31.

Apparently confirming that hotel promotions will continue at least through the summer months, the new offer from InterContinental will also run through August more»

Hotel room door slightly open (Photo: iStockphoto/MBCheatham)

I got a call yesterday from Jeff Zidell, chief of Hyatt's Gold Passport program.

The call was unexpected and Zidell is a busy guy, so I knew that there was bad news to be communicated, probably a policy change that Hyatt wanted to put into a more favorable perspective.

What's changing is the Hyatt Gold Passport award chart.

Effective June 4, Hyatt will require more points for award nights at 89 properties, and fewer points for award stays at 65 properties.

Of the hotels being priced higher, 20 will be placed into an altogether new award tier, Category 6, which will cost 22,000 points per night.

The Hyatt portfolio includes around 424 hotels, so the change amounts to an award price increase in 21 percent of its properties, and a decrease in 15 percent of its hotels.

The net effect, obviously, is modestly more»

Photo: Best Western

In times like these, with all major hotel chains in continual promotion mode, hotels without a special offer or bonus to advertise tend to get lost in the shuffle. That creates an incentive to maintain promotional activity—any promotional activity—if only to sustain visibility among the traveling public.

The latest offer from Best Western feels like one of those "Let's just do something" kind of promotions.

Offer Details

Best Western Rewards members who complete two stays between April 4 and May 30, and complete an additional stay between June 1 and August 31, will earn 1,250 American AAdvantage bonus miles. So, with the 250 miles normally earned, a member would earn a total of 2,000 miles for the three stays.

Registration is required.

Deal or No Deal more»

Woman looking from a bridge in Italy (Photo: IndexOpen)

Award discounts are becoming a regular feature of United's Mileage Plus program.

United's last discount—the ninth in less than a year—was a modest 10 percent, but it was for its most popular award, the restricted coach ticket for travel within the U.S. and to Canada.

United's new award discount is also for travel within the U.S. and Canada, but it's different in key respects.

In particular, rather than discounting restricted award tickets—as United has done repeatedly in its past award promotions—this time it has put unrestricted awards (Standard awards, in United's parlance) on sale. United describes Standard awards as more»

Man clinging to airplane seat (Photo: Index Open)

Yesterday's official announcement that merger talks between US Airways and United have been terminated is great news for anyone vested in the loyalty programs of either of those carriers.

If the merger had transpired, no matter which of the two airlines ended up with management control, there would be a lowest common denominator effect, with the worst practices of the least customer-friendly company dragging down the policies and procedures of the new company.

In this case, the lowest common denominator would be US Airways. And to be blunt, if the merger were a marriage, no caring parents would want their offspring hitched to US Airways. more»

Travelers packing up convertible

With the rebound in the economy, there are glimmers of an associated rebound in travel. That's good for the hotels, which have been mounting promotion after promotion for the past two-plus years, discounting rates and offering bonuses with unprecedented abandon. But good times for the hotels will be just the opposite for their customers, who will find themselves on the receiving end of stiffer hotel bills and fewer loyalty points.

While we may be approaching the tipping point, when increased demand shifts pricing power back into the hands of the hotels, the latest announcement from Starwood would suggest that we're not there yet.

Starwood's last promotion—up to quadruple points for multiple stays—ended on April 15. Would they extend it, roll out a new promotion, or boldly go forth with no extra sales incentives at all? more»

Travel brochures (Photo: IndexOpen)

There are many, many promotions. But there are only a few really, really good ones.

In this monthly roundup, we highlight the five most lucrative offers (or categories of offer) currently available to members of airline and hotel loyalty programs.

(Promotions are listed in alphabetical order.)

1. Spring and Summer Hotel Offers

The two-year-long flood of hotel offers continues, extending the longest period of sustained promotional activity in memory.

A number of offers expire at the end of April, and thus far have not been extended or replaced. Could it be that the hotel chains are throttling back somewhat on their marketing initiatives as the economy revives? That remains to be seen. For now, there are still plenty of promotions worth taking advantage of. Among them: more»

Man checking watch at the ticket counter (Photo: Index Open)

Sky Priority is Delta's newly launched package of airport perks for elite and premium-class passengers. Only the name is new, more»

US Airways aircraft tail close up (Photo: US Airways)

When Southwest launched its double-credit promotion last week, I wondered which airlines would feel compelled to match, and when.

We now have the beginnings of an answer to that question: US Airways has launched its own double-mile campaign.

Offer Details

Between April 13 and June 15, Dividend Miles members will earn double miles for all flights on US Airways, US Airways Express, and the US Airways Shuttle.

The double miles can be redeemed for awards as well as counting toward elite status. more»

Hotel bed with rose petals (Photo: Index Open)

Typically, the airline and hotel promotions featured here require that you be a member of the travel supplier's loyalty program.

This offer, from Marriott, requires just the opposite: It only applies to travelers who are not currently members of the Marriott Rewards more»